Switzerland wins Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with Nemo’s ‘The Code’

MALMO, Sweden — Switzerland won the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 on Saturday in the Swedish host city Malmo, beating runner-up Croatia.  

Billed as a feel-good celebration of European diversity, this year’s contest was thrust into the political spotlight with calls for Israel to be excluded because of its military campaign in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ deadly attack on October 7 in Israel.  

Swiss rapper and singer Nemo, 24, won the contest with “The Code,” a drum-and-bass, opera, rap and rock song about Nemo’s journey of self-discovery as a non-binary person. 

“I hope this contest can live up to its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person in this world,” Nemo said, after receiving the Eurovision trophy on stage. 

“To know that a song that has changed my life and a song where I just speak about my story has touched so many people and maybe inspired other people to stay true to their story is the most insane thing that has ever happened to me,” Nemo said later during a press conference. 

Swiss sing along

Cheers of joy broke out in bars in central Zurich when the winner was announced, and Swiss revelers sang along as Nemo tore through a victory rendition of “The Code.” 

“I think it’s just great, Nemo is fantastic,” said Maha Nater, a 24-year-old kindergarten worker celebrating the win after watching the marathon contest. 

One karaoke bar began blasting out Queen’s “We Are The Champions” as patrons joined in. 

Nemo’s victory would blaze a trail for others who had had to cope with prejudice against non-binary people, Nater said. 

“It sets an example to follow,” she said. 

Croatia places second

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, real name Marko Purisic, 28, came second with “Rim Tim Tagi Dim,” a song about a young man who leaves home aspiring to become a “city boy” with better opportunities. 

Israel’s Eden Golan, 20, finished fifth in the contest despite demonstrators’ calls for a boycott of the country. 

The female solo artist on Thursday emerged as one of the leading contenders to win after qualifying for the final. 

Booing was heard during Golan’s performance but also applause, a Reuters photographer in the auditorium said. The noise was partly audible in the broadcast viewed by tens of millions of people in Europe and around the world. 

There was also booing when the points of the Israeli jury were presented. 

Protesters claim Eurovision supports genocide

Several thousand protesters gathered in central Malmo ahead of Saturday’s final, waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Eurovision united by genocide,”  The contest’s official slogan is “United by music.” 

A few hundred people later also protested outside the venue, chanting “Eurovision, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide.” 

Protesters have been pointing to double standards as the European Broadcasting Union banned Russia from Eurovision in 2022 because of its invasion of Ukraine. 

Police hauled away some protesters before surrounding them and ushering them away, a Reuters reporter outside the arena said. Some protesters were seen lying on the ground after police used pepper spray to disband the demonstration. 

25 countries compete

Twenty-five countries competed in the final after Dutch artist Joost Klein was expelled earlier on Saturday because of a complaint filed by a production crew member. 

Viewer votes made up half of Saturday’s final result, while juries of five music professionals in each participating country made up the other half. 

The Eurovision winner is awarded the contest’s official glass trophy, which is shaped like a classic, old-fashioned microphone, with sand blasted and painted details. The winner also gets to host the competition the following year. 

Nemo broke the fragile prize shortly after receiving it but was given a new one to replace it. 

“I didn’t just break the code, I also broke the trophy,” Nemo said, laughing, at the press conference after the win. 

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